In January 2019, the Kumbh Mela will be held at Prayagraj (Allahabad) in Uttar Pradesh. Preparations for the holy gathering are in full swing, not only on the ground but also on social media. A photograph has been shared widely with the claim that it is a picture of the preparation which is currently underway.
The fake news website Postcard News was at the forefront, posting the photograph on November 16 with the words, “Yes this is Heaven. This is how Uttar Pradesh’s Prayagraj is getting ready for Kumbh Mela.” The post was later deleted.
Several individual users on Twitter and Facebook too have shared this photograph claiming that it is of Prayagraj (Allahabad) ahead of the Kumbh Mela to be held in January 2019. It has also been posted by a Facebook page Pulse of India from which it has been shared over 400 times. Some users have heaped lavish praise on Yogi Adityanath and the Uttar Pradesh government for the arrangements which are being put in place.
Mecca, not Kumbh Mela arrangement
Alt News reverse-searched the image and the results showed that the image is from Saudi Arabia, with the suggestion that this is the great mosque of Mecca.
On further probing, Alt News found that a photograph uploaded on an account on Instagram which is identical to the image circulated on social media claimed to be from Prayagraj, Uttar Pradesh. The photograph had been uploaded on August 19, 2018 by the account @thatsmyhajj, which is a platform for South African hajj pilgrimage travellers to share their experiences. The photograph is available for viewing on Websta, which is an online Instagram viewer. It was clicked at Mina, which is situated close to Mecca and serves accomodation for millions of pilgrims who descend each year.
It is rather embarrassing that a photograph from Mecca, Saudi Arabia has been touted as grand preparation for the Kumbh Mela by the Yogi Adityanath led government in Uttar Pradesh. However, this is not the first time an over-the-top image has been used to represent an event in India. Recently, the mayor of Ahmedabad had used a picture from Seoul, South Korea claiming it to be the Sabarmati Riverfront in Ahmedabad.
Independent journalism that speaks truth to power and is free of corporate and political control is possible only when people start contributing towards the same. Please consider donating towards this endeavour to fight fake news and misinformation.